Serving Texas hamburgers in Cornwall, part 2: the definitive recipe

I already told you that the only ingredient in a Texas hamburger is beef, and that’s true but I may have oversimplified things. So I’m going to give you the full, formal recipe. Don’t leave here without it.

Before we get down to business, though, I need to explain that the difference between a Texas hamburger and any other kind of American hamburger.

Cornwall; Madron Holy Well

Screamingly irrelevant photo: Tree at Madron Holy Well, near Penzance. The tradition of tying cloth to the tree goes back to pre-Christian times, when it was believed to cure illness. Exactly why people do it today is anyone’s guess. Maybe to cure an illness; maybe to brush shoulders with something ancient or add their bit of cloth to something compelling. I was tempted, because it is compelling, even though I don’t believe it can cure and wasn’t sick to begin with.

People don’t notice regional differences in countries that aren’t theirs, but if you live there, they matter. A California burger comes with lettuce and tomato, and if you live in California it’s just called a hamburger. It’s the rest of the country that calls it a California burger. And a Texas burger? It has one ingredient no one else can match and it has its own cooking method.

The ingredient is attitude. A Texas hamburger has it, and much as I love other parts of the country we just can’t rival Texas for its outright and usually charming bullshit. Without the good ol’ Texas bullshit, what you have is a plain ol’ American hamburger. That’s not bad, but it isn’t from Texas.

If you’re not from Texas can you do Texas bullshit? Probably not. Many and many a year ago in a queendom surrounded by the sea, we were trapped across a table in a broken-down train with an Englishman who lived in Texas and thought he’d learned the trick. What he’d learned to be was loud, self-important, and obnoxious. What he hadn’t learned was charm. It was a very long wait for that train to get moving again.

What do I recommend, then? A) Invite a Texan and turn her or him loose, B) offer your burgers to a group of people who don’t know about the secret ingredient and won’t miss it, or C) call it an American hamburger. Do not, under any circumstances, try to substitute a low-cost bluster for Texas bullshit. You’re better off without it.

And the cooking method? You cook the burgers outdoors, on a hot grill, and you cook them, at most, medium rare. When the burger’s almost done, put the top half of the bun on it. This spreads the grease on it. Wild Thing assures me that’s good.

The grill has to be hot, so the outside gets seared and dark. If you’re using charcoal, Wild Thing tells me you have to let the coals get white hot. Tossing a bit of water on them will release some steam and heat everything up. It’ll also bring a little drama to the process. She uses a gas grill, and she buys hardwood chips, soaks them, and tosses them into the grill to give the meat a smoky flavor. Oak is good, but any hardwood will do. Pine won’t.

What about the folks who can’t bring themselves to eat their burgers rare? We-e-ll, it’s up to you, of course. I suspect Wild Thing’s becoming a bit of a missionary about this, but the fact is that she did re-grill the hamburgers that were brought back to her. Whether she can bring herself to do it a second time is anyone’s guess.

So here’s the recipe. Be sure to get the proportions right:

Texas Hamburgers

Good ground beef

That’s it. Nothing else. Not even salt and pepper. No eggs, no bread crumbs, no shoelaces. Don’t (as I’m sometimes tempted to do) buy cheap ground beef, telling yourself the fat will cook out. Get the good (for which you can read more expensive) stuff, divide it up, pat it into shape, and grill the hell out of it. Put it on a bun, put some ketchup on it, and eat it.

And remember, you got the recipe from a vegetarian.

34 thoughts on “Serving Texas hamburgers in Cornwall, part 2: the definitive recipe

  1. Having read your earlier post on the Texas hamburger, I was inspired. I actually got some top quality ground beef from my local butchers yesterday with the intention of making burgers the Texas way this weekend, so this post is very timely. Thanks to you and Wild Thing for the inspiration!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The recipe for the Texas hamburger sounds suspiciously like the recipe for a burger in North Carolina also. But to differentiate from the California burger, we take ours with mustard (plain old yellow), slaw (simply made), and chilli (no beans). If onions are added and they usually are- they are sweet and diced. This is the hamburger Carolina style.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. OK … saying Iceland burgers is a risk. Cooked in a frying pan after defrosting in the microwave. I realise that there will now be a contract out on me. When the hitman/woman arrives I will offer them a cup of tea and a scone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had no idea there were different regions of burgers in the States. Never heard of a California or Texas burger. The way you describe how you make a Texas burger, I like it – no need sauce to make it taste good. Sounds like the beef must stand on it’s own. Not a huge fan of ketchup or tomato sauce myself as my stomach can’t handle it.

    I don’t think there is an official Australian burger to my knowledge. However, we do have a number of diners that claim they serve American burgers. Tried some of them and the beef patties are always thick.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In Britain, good / expensive ground or minced beef is steak and has a lower percentage of fat. Fat keeps burgers from drying out. I wonder if the best solution is to buy a good cut of meat and mince it (not in a food processor) yourself. Any advice regarding the cut?

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’ve never tried it, so I’d advice ignoring any advice we offer on the subject. All I can report (since I ate the veggie burgers) is that Wild Thing swears by the expensive ground beef.


  6. I think you confused me with this blog, not sure where it was going … which is fine on a hot summer’s day (today is Italian Ferragosto, we’re all busy digesting the multi-course hours-long traditional restaurant meal we drove out to somewhere in the countryside).But I do so like the voodoo-like tree, and Texas attitutde thing. From the sound of it, wouldn’t have survived if there’d also been Texas burgers.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You lost me at ketchup. My mother stretched the meat by using fresh onion, green bell pepper and parsley in the burger. I hated them..Preferred plain meat. But now…I use spices…smoked paprika, garlic and turmeric, salt and pepper. Always on the grill. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

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